General Tso Chicken is marinated pieces of chicken thighs that are deep-fried and coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. We usually serve this delectable dish with white or fried rice and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds. It’s better than take-out!
General Tso Chicken
General Tso Chicken is credited to be created by chef Peng Chang-kuei. The recipe for the chicken was eventually sweetened a bit to what most know it as now. You can find it featured on most menus at Asian restaurants in the United States. But, there is no need to go to a restaurant; make your own sweet and spicy chicken to serve over a bed of rice.
There are two parts to this recipe–the chicken and the sauce.
Chicken: I used chicken thighs in this recipe for more flavor. However, you could use chicken breasts if that is what you prefer.
Shaoxing wine: Shaoxing wine is also called yellow wine. It is a traditional Chinese wine that can be hard to find. (I had to order it online.)
Ginger: You will use ground ginger in the marinade and the sauce.
Crushed red pepper: Start with one teaspoon (or even a half of a teaspoon) of crushed red pepper flakes in the sauce; you can always add more if you want a little more kick. I only used one teaspoon, and it definitely had some heat in each bite.
Marinating the Chicken
The first thing to do in this recipe is t0 marinate the chicken for an hour. To do this, whisk together the Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. After you have made the marinade, place the pieces of chicken into zipped plastic bags. Pour the marinade over the top of the chicken; then, move the chicken around to make sure it is coated in the sauce. Tightly seal the bag (or bags) of chicken and place them in the refrigerator for an hour.
Frying the Chicken
When ready, combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. This will be the coating for the chicken before frying. Next, heat up about 2 inches of oil in a large pot. Use a thermometer to make sure the oil gets to a temperature of 375°F.
Once the oil is hot enough, toss the pieces of chicken in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and place 10-15 pieces of the chicken into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pot; the chicken could stick together. Cook the chicken for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the oil and place it on a paper towel.
Before you repeat the frying of the rest of the chicken, be sure to check the oil temperature. After a batch, the oil temperature may have gone down; make sure it is still at or back up to 375°F. Once the chicken has been fried, tent the pieces to keep them warm as you make the sauce.
What is Shaoxing Wine?
As I stated above, Shaoxing wine is traditional Chinese rice wine. It is made in Shaoxing, a city in China’s Zhejiang Province. The wine definitely does make a difference in the final product. Using the wine will give you the most authentic flavor you are looking for in this recipe. Yes, it is hard to find, but I will give you some substitutions next.
Can I Make General Tso Chicken Without Shaoxing Wine?
Yes, you can. We made General Tso Chicken both with and without Shaoxing wine (we used rice wine vinegar in the sauce instead). The verdict was unanimous; making it with Shaoxing wine resulted in more depth and flavor. Although I could not find the wine in my area, I ended up ordering a bottle from Amazon. If you do have a Chinese market near you, check there first.
If you are in a bind and don’t have Shaoxing wine available, there are a few substitutes you could try. The best substitute would be dry sherry, followed by dry vermouth. Or, if you are looking for a non-alcoholic substitute, you could get by using chicken or vegetable stock.
How to Make General Tso Chicken in the Oven
To make this recipe in the oven, follow the first four instructions for marinating the chicken. (The sauce remains the same.) After you have completed the first four instructions, do the following:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add the marinated chicken to the flour mixture and shake off any excess.
- Place the coated chicken onto the lined baking sheet and spray the tops of the pieces of chicken with cooking spray.
- Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Add the baked chicken to the sauce, tossing to combine.
Baking the chicken will not give you the crispiness like when frying in oil; it’s still delicious, though!
How to Make General Tso Chicken in an Air Fryer
Making the chicken in an air fryer will give you crispier chicken compared to baking it in the oven. To make the chicken in an air fryer, follow the first four instructions for the chicken. (The sauce recipe will not change.) After you have marinated the chicken, follow these instructions:
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for about 5 minutes, spraying the basket of the air fryer with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add the marinated chicken pieces to the flour mixture and shake off any excess.
- Place the coated chicken in a single layer, spaced apart, in the basket of your air fryer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to work in batches.
- Air fry the chicken for 10 minutes at 400°F, flipping the pieces halfway through.
- Add the air-fried chicken to the sauce.
General Tso Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ cup (62.5g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (64g) cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup (240g) chicken broth
- ⅓ cup (85g) soy sauce
- ⅓ cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- green onion, diced, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- To a large, zipped bag, add the chicken.
- In a small bowl, whisk together Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Pour over the chicken. Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for an hour.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt.
- When ready, add about 2 inches of oil into a large pot. Heat the oil to 375°F.
- Add chicken to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour and, working in batches (about 10-15 chicken pieces at a time), carefully lower the chicken pieces into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pot with chicken (this will cause the oil temperature to decrease and the chicken to stick together). Cook in the oil for about 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the oil and place the pieces onto a towel-lined baking sheet. Before frying the next batch, be sure to check that the oil temperature is at 375°F. Tent the chicken to keep warm as you make the sauce.
- In a large skillet over medium heat add broth, soy sauce, sugar, wine, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
- In a small bowl combine corn starch and rice wine vinegar. Mix well and slowly pour into the boiling mixture, whisking as you pour. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened slightly (about a minute). Remove from heat. Add chicken and toss to combine.
- Serve with rice and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.
Did you make this recipe?
You can tag me at @iamhomesteader.
This recipe was inspired by Joshua Weissman.